There was a once a pastor sent to minister in our community church in 1994. He was a graduate of a Bible college and had a degree in ministry. In all educational and physical aspects, he was qualified to be a church pastor. I specify here that he was a "pastor" but not necessarily a "messenger" of God. Here's why.
As a pastor, he asked the board of elders (the church was a registered as a corporation) for a monthly salary and fringe benefits, including his social security installments and health care. He also asked the church for free accommodation at a nearby apartment for his family. Aside from his monthly salary, the church pays for his electric and water bills, and sometimes, his dental care bills. His tenure as pastor had a renewable yearly contract that was to be agreed upon by the church, which was a Conservative Baptist church. In that arrangement, he was a church "employee".
After a few years the church suffered a lot of legal conflicts and eventually many members left and it had a tragic split, or a division. Some members wanted a new pastor and some wanted the pastor to remain. The final factor that decided the issue was when he asked for a salary raise and the board refused.
What does the Bible say? A pastor or minister is not only a "hired hand" - he is "called" to the ministry. Anyone can get a degree and graduate with Masters of Divinity but if he is not called by God to be a messenger, he will eventually fail and leave the position. Position is the right word, because positional leadership is never effective in ministry.
What does the Bible say then regarding the qualities of a TRUE messenger of God?
Malachi 2:5-7 says partly some of it:
"My covenant was with him (Levi), a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered Me and stood in awe of My Name.
True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips. He walked with Me in uprightness, and turned many from sin.
For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction - because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty."
Here we see that God requires these from His messengers:
1.) Reverence - a high regard for God's Holiness, so much so that His very Presence touches the messenger and fills him with awe, unspeakable abiding peace...and God's Power.
Preaching is prayer work first before it can work in the hearts of hearers. So the messenger to God must first be a prayer man before he can speak with God's power and God's message.
2.) True Instruction - deep faith nurtured in the Truth based on the Word of God, only from which all wisdom and knowledge comes by which the messenger can deliver powerful preaching and teaching. Error has no place in the ministry and doctrinal error can only be erased by being rooted in the foundation of God's Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
3.) "Nothing false was found on his lips"
Today there are many heresies arising from a deviation of interpretation of the Book of Revelation and Christians may be diverted from the truth by ministers professing to have a personal "word from God". Some have gone so far as to prophesy that they are the chosen few, Latter Rain Sons of God sent to cleanse the earth of evil. False teachings arise when the Self is glorified and motives digress from God's message.
4.) "He walked with Me in peace and uprightness (abiding in God in prayer and intimacy)
Walking with God is an active daily devotion. It requires willful obedience and participation, staying with the Vine Jesus Christ for nourishment and fruitfulness.
5.) "And turned many from sin"
A preacher who abides in God in intimate fellowship has divine power flowing from his words. It does not come from his abilities or human eloquence, but from the Power of the Holy Spirit. Some preachers can preach without shouting and yet cause the listeners to cry in tears of repentance and godly conviction, make them fall on their knees by his very words anointed by the Eternal God. The purpose God sends messengers is not for entertainment but for many to "turn away from sin"
That is the only reason God send His messengers.
The purpose of a messenger or a shepherd (overseer of the flock of believers) is also stated in Ezekiel 34: 2-10
"Prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"Woe to the shepherds of Israel who take care only of themselves! Should not the shepherds take care of the flock? You eat curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.
You have not strengthened the weak or bound up the injured.
You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost.
You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered and became food for all the wild animals."
Ezekiel 34: 7 - 9
"Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because My flock lacks a shepherd
and so has been plundered and has become food for all wild animals, and because My shepherds did not search for My flock but cared for themselves rather than for My flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for My flock.
I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them."
6.) "strengthened the weak...bound the injured" - these work involves discipleship and counseling, as well as nurturing the believers in their spiritual walk.
7.) "brought back the strays" - the work involves the restoration of the backsliders and the recovery of those trying to overcome sin in their spiritual walk.
Being God's messenger, whether in the pulpit or in written work, is not a "job". Sending forth God's message of Salvation and Sanctification (Titus 3:4-7) demands that we first abide in God's will and in His Presence for us to effectively advance His kingdom. It requires heart work, prayer work, and dedication. We must always bear in mind that we have an accountability to God in everything we say whether in the pulpit or in sites like this where we write God's message. Let us not therefore trivialize that calling but with total dependence on Him, glorify Him with every word.
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